Big Pedal 2015

Big Pedal 2015 (4)STUDENTS and teachers who geared up for a nationwide cycling challenge have been rewarded for their pedal-powered achievements.

A team from Bede Academy, Blyth, registered for the Big Pedal, a national inter-school competition that encourages children, teachers and parents to cycle to school.

The challenge organised by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, offered prizes to students and teachers who signed up to get to school on two wheels.

Sustrans officer Richard Rothwell said:

“The Big Pedal is one of a number of cycling initiatives that we have been working on with pupils at Bede Academy.

“The event helps encourage them to look at leading healthier and more active lives by challenging them to cycle or scoot on their journey to school for ten days.

“There are also loads of spin-offs from enjoying a bike ride including reduced numbers of vehicles at the school gates, a reduction in environmental pollution and getting into the routine of enjoying exercise.”

Big Pedal 2015 (2)This year’s Sustrans’s nationwide annual Big Pedal challenge has seen almost half a million separate journeys made by pupils, parents and teachers across Britain, cycling a collective distance of over three-and-a-half-million miles.

Bede students Roma Harm, 15, Christopher Johnson, 12, and Adam Graham, 12, along with the academy’s head of rugby Mr Andrew Sutherland each received £50 in vouchers from CJ Performance Cycling, Cramlington, after their names were drawn out of a hat from all participating students and staff.

Director of sport at Bede Academy Simon McAree said:

“This is the third year that we have taken part in The Big Pedal. Cycling is a great way to help develop a healthy lifestyle and form good exercise habits for the future.

“It fits nicely into the day and is really enjoyable for students who may not be particularly active or keen on team sports.”

Year 7 student Adam Graham, 12, of Blyth, added:

“I cycle a mile into school every day, even when it’s raining.

“The Big Pedal was a really good way of getting people who would normally come to school by car to get on their bikes and exercise as well as helping to save the environment.

“I was really pleased to get a voucher and think I’ll put it towards getting a new bike.”


Blyth candidates coach students in party policy ahead of mock election

Election CandidatesStudent politicians have been formulating campaigns for an academy election with the help of ‘real’ Parliamentary candidates who are aiming to secure victory in Blyth on May 7.

The main political party candidates for the Blyth Valley constituency, including sitting Labour MP Ronnie Campbell, spent a morning at Bede Academy, explaining their policies and supporting the students who have put themselves forward to represent each party.

The students will be given a platform in whole school assemblies and a room for their party headquarters in the run-up to a mock academy election on May 7 when all Bede students and staff will have a chance to vote for their chosen candidate.

Aiesha Greer and Thomas Brown discussed policies with Liberal Democrat candidate Philip Latham, who said:

“I have been very impressed by the students’ enthusiasm.”

Aiesha added:

“I’ve read through the manifesto and there’s a lot I agree with. The Liberal Democrats have a strong philosophy and principals that have kept the Conservatives in check in coalition and they seem really focused on young people.”

UKIP candidate Barry Elliott coached the students in party policies on immigration, Europe, women’s rights and the NHS.

He said:

“The students have got a thorough knowledge and good understanding of the policies and I believe they will represent the party in the way we’d want them to.”

Student Daniel Collins, who is supported by Charlotte Harrison-Wear, said:

“UKIP seem dedicated to helping people, not making fake promises. They’ve been made out to be the bad boys of politics but when you study the policies they have some very good arguments.”

Green Party candidate Dawn Furness coached her student team in how to avoid being drawn into sniping political debate.

“You have to try and rise above it and get across the fact that we are different because we have a different ethos for a visionary society that’s fairer and more tolerant,” she said.

Green student candidate Ryan Dixon, supported by Josh Aisbitt, predicted that issues like university tuition fees, affordable travel and the minimum wage would resonate with Bede voters.

The Labour team of Matthew Butcher and Chris Haley also expect to focus on increasing the minimum wage, scrapping the bedroom tax, building more houses and allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote.

Matthew said:

“Under 19s make up a quarter of the local population so we think those issues will be Labour’s big selling points.”

Conservative candidate Greg Munro will visit the academy at a later date and student candidate Christopher Matthews, helped by Phoebe Rycroft, said:

“The manifesto pledges are achievable; they haven’t promised anything they can’t fulfil.”

Vice principal Steve Nelson said the students would spend the next two weeks selling themselves and their party’s policies.

He added:

“We are very grateful to all the candidates for spending the morning with our students, helping them develop clear strategies for their campaigns, understand their party’s policies and giving a flavour of the kind of questioning they might face during the course of the campaign.”

Sixty-five Year 13 students at the academy will be eligible to vote in the General Election and all the ‘real’ candidates have pledged to return to speak to them before May 7.